The youth revolution is set to continue at the backend of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 season, with Ernie Merrick confirming that Angus Thurgate is in line for a spot in the starting XI.
Should the Port Macquarie product take his spot on the pitch from the opening whistle on Saturday in Brisbane, it’ll mark just his second start in the competition.
Thurgate’s first start came back in February against Melbourne City, in a match where the youngster played a little over an hour in the 3-1 win.
Praised in the aftermath of that match for his work-rate and determination, the youngster has had to bide his time in the interlude with just a single appearance off the bench since.
He took his opportunity in that single appearance with both hands however, showing his fantastic technique in slotting home the winner against the Wanderers just a fortnight ago.
Now, Ernie Merrick believes Thurgate is primed to play a larger part in his plans and confirmed on Wednesday morning that the youngster will start this Saturday night against Brisbane Roar.
Signed as a scholarship player last season, with that deal upgraded to a full contract this season, Thurgate is an example of the pathways available to junior Jets.
The 19-year-old has been playing in the NPL Northern NSW for since 2016, with this season marking his fourth in the competition.
He first entered the Jets system in 2014, playing in the inaugural NPL Northern NSW season with the Club’s U/15 side.
Speaking with media on Thursday morning, Thurgate praised the way the boss has nurtured the younger players throughout the season.
“It’s good for me and a lot of the younger boys, he’s willing to give us a chance and all we have to do is keep Ernie’s trust," Thurgate said.
"We’ll do that by putting in good performances and working hard in training.
“People in similar positions, age groups, we push each other at training and games, whether it’s little competitions at the end or just in training. It’s good, we’ve got a good group and we work well together."
The youngster hasn't seen a great deal of game time this season, but he made the most of a cameo off the bench against the Western Sydney Wanderers back in Round 24.
His game-winning goal in the final ten minutes of that clash was his first for the senior side in a competitive fixture, and said it's a good feeling to have that monkey off his back.
"It is, but every time I get on the field I try to do my best and what I can for the team. Luckily, the goal sat up for me and I put it away," Thurgate said.
“It is, it’s been a long season and I’ve had to bide my time, but the way the season has gone I’ve been able to get a few more opportunities, I’m thankful for them and I’m excited to get some more."